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Vox Sentences: Notre Dame in flames

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The Notre Dame Cathedral is heavily damaged by fire; Quebec proposes a new bill that bars public workers from wearing any religious symbols.

The burning of Notre Dame

Night falls as firefighters continue to battle the flames. Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images
  • The Notre Dame Cathedral, one of Paris’s most famous landmarks, suffered significant damage from a fire today. [AP]
  • About 400 firefighters are working to put out the fire, and the main structure has been “saved and preserved.” The cathedral has still experienced significant damage — including the fall of its famed spire and the loss of its roof. [Guardian / Mattha Busby]
  • Police said they believe the fire started from construction as part of the restoration work on the building. [NYT / Adam Nossiter and Aurelien Breeden]
  • The building, which has been damaged and renovated several times over its long history, was crumbling and its wooden frames were eroding from water leaks. A long-needed $180 million renovation on the building began with the spire — which collapsed Monday as the flames raged. [NYT / Aurelien Breeden]
  • President Trump sent his condolences to the French and also recommended they should use “flying water tankers” to put out the fires. [Twitter / Donald Trump]
  • Paris police, however, said the use of such tactics could damage the old and brittle building, potentially causing even more harm. The agency is using “all means” to handle the fire, which is being treated as a national emergency. [AP]
  • The cathedral has been standing at the heart of Paris since the 12th century. The fire is a heartbreaking loss for Parisians and the world, and several prominent figures and religious groups sent their thoughts and prayers. [BBC]
  • French President Emmanuel Macron declared his determination to rebuild Notre Dame and said an international fundraising campaign will be launched. [Independent / Andrew Griffin and Jon Stone]

A controversial proposal in Quebec

  • Quebec has proposed a bill that bars public employees — including teachers, nurses, bus drivers, and lawyers — from wearing “religious symbols” while at work. [AP News / Tracey Lindeman]
  • The government issued the proposal on Thursday, but it has been trying for years to restrict civil servants from wearing religious symbols like turbans, yarmulkes, and headscarves in what it says is an effort to preserve a secular society. [Al Jazeera]
  • While some municipal leaders and school boards have said they will not enforce the ban if it becomes law, the mayor — who opposes the bill — said she would not stand in its way if it passed. [CBC / Isaac Olson]
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his disagreement with the bill before the text was released on Thursday. “It’s unthinkable to me that in a free society we would legitimize discrimination against citizens based on their religion,” he said. [Bloomberg / Sandrine Rastello]
  • Similar bans have been proposed and passed in France and other European countries. While the laws sometimes apply to all religious symbols equally, the debate often focuses on headscarves and veils worn by Muslim women. [Guardian / Matthew Weaver]


  • Tiger Woods just won his first Masters since 2005. Now Trump wants to give him a Presidential Medal of Freedom. [Fox News / Liam Quinn]
  • Morehouse College, America’s only historically black all-male school, is making history by now accepting the admission of transgender men. [NYT / Sandra E. Garcia]
  • Have you ever wanted to name your own planet? Now’s your chance, as scientists from NASA are asking the public to vote for one of three names –– Gonggong, Holle, and Vili –– for a minor planet. [Newsweek / Aristos Georgiou]
  • A Florida man kept a cassowary, known as the world’s most dangerous bird, as a pet. That same animal killed him on Friday. [Washington Post / Kayla Epstein]
  • There are just four Yangtze giant softshell turtles left in existence. On Saturday, the last known female died in a Chinese zoo. [USA Today / N’dea Yancey-Bragg]


“Like all our compatriots, I am sad tonight to see this part of us burning.” [President Emmanuel Macron on Twitter following the Notre Dame fire]

Watch this: The real reason Boeing’s new plane crashed twice

Two Boeing airplanes have fallen out of the air and crashed in the past six months. On the surface, this is a technical failure. But the real story is about a company’s desire to beat its rival. [YouTube / Alvin Chang, Dion Lee, and Kim Mas]

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